Summary: Matthew 7:12-23 The narrow road
The narrow road
Well today is our second last sermon on the Sermon on the Mount. And from verse 12 through to the end of the chapter forms the summary and conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount. The first word of verse 12 is “so”- or in some versions, “therefore”. That means that this last part of chapter 7 is the summary and the conclusion of the whole sermon on the Mount. And who can give me one word to describe the Sermon on the Mount? “Difficult”. Yes, difficult to do. And so it is no surprise then that the summary and conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount is also difficult. In it Jesus talks about narrow roads, false prophets in sheep’s clothing and all sorts of other really difficult stuff. But this conclusion has something that should really should make us sit up and take notice. You see, in the passage we are looking at today Jesus tells us plain and clear that our reaction to His teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, whether we obey it or not, is the difference between life and death, between an eternity in heaven or an eternity in hell. And so this sermon today is pretty important. Well let’s get stuck into the passage and have a look at it. Verse 12 starts with “So” – or “therefore” in some versions. That is, Jesus now summarises the whole sermon on the Mount with the famous words:
Matthew 712 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.”
and then He says
Matthew 7:12b for this is the Law and the Prophets.
In other words this little statement of doing to others what you wish they would do to you, not only does it summarise the Sermon on the Mount, but Jesus says it summarises the Law and the Prophets. The expression “Law and the Prophets” was often used by Jews in Jesus’ day to describe their Bible – what we call the Old Testament. In other words “whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them,” basically sums up the ethnical teaching of the Sermon on the Mount as well as the whole Bible. Well – it makes sense if you think about it. What sort of things have we been looking at in the sermon on the Mount? Being salt and light so others can glorify the Father in Heaven. Now if you’d never heard about Jesus, wouldn’t you like someone to be salt and light to you so you could glorify God? I know I’m very grateful to my grade 11 teacher who told me about Jesus and what He’d done for me. And so I should do that for others - be salt and light and so glorify and show others who God is.
We’ve also looked at anger - not calling your brother or sister “fool.” Reconciling with those we are out of sorts with. Now you don’t like it when people call you “fool”- so don’t call others fools. And you like it when people reconcile with you, so then reconcile with others. We also talked about lust and flirting, marriage and divorce. I’m sure we’d all like our spouses to remain faithful to us. We also don’t like the thought of someone else ogling our wives – or future wives. So we should do to others what we would like for ourselves. We looked at truth. We like others to tell us the truth – to be honest with us. So we should do the same to others. We talked about retaliation. We would like others not to retaliate against us when we make mistakes, to cop us a bit of slack, so we should do the same to others. We talked about giving to the needy. If we were needy, if we were one of those starving Africans in Somalia right now, we’d sure like someone to help us, to give us a chance of life, to help us feed our kids so they wouldn’t die of starvation or disease. So therefore we should do the same to others that we would like done to us. The Sermon on the Mount – the Law and the Prophets – the Bible - can quite simply be summed up in
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.”
Simple isn’t it? Well…… simple to say. Not quite so simple to do. If it was so simple to do, then why do we still have wars and man-made famines? Why do we have marital affairs, divorce and domestic violence? Why do we have lawsuits and arguments and why do some churches have church splits? Why does all this happen if it’s so simple? Well, the fact is, it’s easy to say, but it’s hard to do. The basic problem is that we don’t do to others what we want them to do to us. Why? Because for each one of us – the most important person in the world is – me. I know that’s often true of myself. But you know, there’s always two sides of the story. There’s my side. And then there’s my other side. What we excuse in ourselves we don’t excuse in others. We are self-centred creatures.